There is nothing speedier (or tastier) midweek than a quick chicken or fish Tagine.  Succulent chicken breasts were the vehicle in this one for a subtly spiced lemon and tomato sauce laced with green olives and finished off with the unmistakable tang of preserved lemon.  A dollop of yoghurt and a whack of crunchy coriander topped off this divine combination.  Tagine……you complete me.

I used a spice blend that I make myself called Ras el Hanout.  Once you have made it, it can be the basis for most Middle Eastern dishes.  It makes loads and lasts ages and is the perfect balance of spice flavour.  What more could you ask for?  The recipe?  It’s below…..


Prep time:  20  Minutes                Cooking time:  20  Minutes                 $-$$  Low to Medium Budget


Serves 4


Ras El Hanout:

1/2 tsp ground cloves

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

2 tsp ground allspice

2 tsp ground cumin

2 tsp ground ginger

2 tsp ground turmeric

2 tsp ground black pepper

2 tsp ground cardamom

3 tsp ground cinnamon

3 tsp ground coriander

2 freshly grated nutmegs or 6 tsp ground nutmeg

Throw all the spices in a jar, give a good shake and Muhammads your uncle!

For the Tagine:

Olive oil for frying

4 x 150gm chicken breast fillets, lightly scored (thigh would work equally well just cook for 10-15 minutes longer)

2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

2cm piece of ginger, grated

grated rind of a lemon

1 brown onion, halved and sliced

2 ripe tomatoes, halved and wedged

2 tbs of Ras el Hanout

11/2 cups of chicken stock

Juice of 1/2 a lemon

1 tbs of honey

1 cup of sicilian green olives

4 pieces of preserved lemon, flesh removed and discarded and skin finely sliced

1 cup of coriander leaves

Greek yoghurt, coriander sprigs and cous cous or rice to serve

Heat a shallow pan and add a little olive oil.  Lightly fry the onion until just starting to soften and then add the garlic, ginger and lemon rind.  Fry for a minute or so until fragrant and then add the Ras el Hanout.  Stir to combine until aromatic and don’t be alarmed when the pan becomes quite dry but be careful not to burn the spices.  Pour in the stock, lemon juice and honey and scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to lift any spices off the bottom.

Bring to a simmer and add the chicken breast fillets, tomatoes and olives.  Spoon the sauce over the top of the breast fillets so they are mostly submerged and pop on a lid.  Keep the heat nice and low and poach the fillets in the sauce for 10-15 minutes, turning once.  Lift off the lid and allow the sauce to reduce for 5 minutes.  Scatter over the coriander just before serving.

To serve, divide rice or cous cous among four serving plates and top each with a breast fillet. Spoon the sauce and olives over the chicken, don’t be shy.  Place a generous scoop of yoghurt on top of the chicken and garnish with the preserved lemon slices and a few coriander sprigs.  A serving of steamed greens or salad completes an awesome meal!